The Public Interest Law Center is seeking applications for a staff attorney to ensure that low-income families in Philadelphia are able to live and thrive in safe, healthy, and affordable rental homes. The attorney will use a community lawyering approach to ensure a voice for communities in combating uninhabitable housing, unresponsive landlords, discrimination in Landlord-Tenant Court, and all-too-frequent evictions that create poverty and trauma, and can leave families homeless.
The attorney will represent clients in legal actions, including defending against eviction complaints and bringing affirmative suits, and help clients to connect with other legal and technical expertise needed to achieve their goals. In addition to legal actions, the attorney will be expected to provide policy and strategic guidance to community clients; and engage in advocacy, community organizing and coalition-building.
The attorney will be paired with a community organizer, both of whom will join the Law Center’s growing housing project. Collectively, their relationship building, leadership training opportunities, and successful advocacy will also build community infrastructure, laying the groundwork for low-income tenants to respond collectively and independently to other, related or emerging threats to their wellbeing and financial security.
In conjunction with the housing team, the attorney will identify three neighborhoods in which to commence targeted organizing and community education based on factors such as areas with the highest eviction rates, clusters of unlicensed landlords, clusters of buildings owned by offending landlords, poor health outcomes, or high rates of poverty. Working with these communities, the attorney and organizer will develop tenant-centered, data-centered, plans for each of the three communities, identify the communities’ key housing priorities, describe how those priorities may be addressed, establish activities for engaging more residents, and set measurable, tailored outcomes.
The end goal of the project is to have more low-income Philadelphians living in safe, healthy housing. Accordingly, the attorney will train community members, bring affirmative suits, and serve as a legal backstop for engaged tenants that become the target of landlord retaliation. As a result, the job will be rewarding, but also requires a candidate who is both sensitive to high-stress situations and empathetic to client populations who often find themselves in precarious situations.